Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Stillwater forecast for Saturday: Fireworks
By David Ubben
Once the smoke cleared in Stillwater and Oklahoma State's pistols stopped firing, 102 points had been hung on the scoreboard.
The Sooners bested Oklahoma State 61-41 on that day in 2008, but don't be surprised if Saturday's Bedlam game broaches triple digits on the scoreboard, too.
Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles leads the nation with 106 receptions -- 12 more than the next best.
"You don’t want to look at it in that perspective, you [just] want to try to score one more point than the other team," said Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden. "We know we’re going to have to score some points because their offense can do the same. We’ve just got to continue doing what we’ve done the last 11 games; be productive, get first downs, usually that turns into points for us."
Two of the nation's top receivers, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, will finally be playing on the same field. Broyles has 12 more receptions than any receiver in the country. Blackmon has 170 more yards than his closest competition, and leads the nation in touchdown receptions with 17. Both were tabbed on a three-man list of finalists for the Biletnikoff Award on Monday.
Weeden, and his Sooner counterpart, Landry Jones are Nos. 2 and 3 nationally in passing yards. Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter ranks third nationally in rushing with 1,461 yards, and Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray is 17 yards from his second career 1,000-yard season.
It should come as no surprise that the two teams are No. 1 and 2 in scoring during conference play at just under 40 points a game. In Oklahoma's win over Baylor, the Sooners even took a page from Oklahoma State's playbook, debuting a new "Diamond" formation with three backs in the backfield, a formation Oklahoma State has employed all season.
That formation helped the Sooners roll to 53 points on the road against Baylor on Saturday, the Sooners highest point output away from home by more than 20 points.
"Execution was good, we caught the ball well and had very few penalties," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "You put that all together, and it was a very productive day. I’ve been very pleased through the year of what we’re doing."
Eventually, one of these defenses will have to stop the other. The one who does it most will leave Stillwater with a win and a Big 12 South title. That said, don't bet on either team racking up very many of those valuable stops.
"We get different looks each week," Gundy said of opposing defenses' approaches. Some people have tried to pressure us, some teams mix it up, some teams haven’t pressured at all. Obviously, everybody has a feel for what their defenders can do in matching up with our skill players, and try to do the best they can to make plays, the same way we do on offense in our game plan."
None of those looks have worked. Excluding a game without Blackmon, Oklahoma State hasn't been held under 33 points. The Cowboys trifecta of talent has provided Gundy with a most welcome problem: figuring out which one of his players to nominate for Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.
"What we try to do is look at each player and how he performed at his position in what he could control," Gundy said. "For example, how many opportunities did Justin Blackmon have, and did he do it? How many opportunities did a quarterback have to make a play, and did he do it, compared to just running up a large number of statistics. Inside here, when we vote on these teams from our coaching standpoint, we try to determine the opportunity a player had to make a play and did he take advantage of it. We think that's as fair a way as there is to grade or to try to set some sort of standard for a conference player or a player of the year."